It's a common misconception that prospecting for new customers means contacting as many people as possible. The reality is that more calls do not necessarily generate more sales. Sales reps rarely get lists of potential customers that have been boiled down to real prospects.
Tom Roth, coauthor of the classic management book, Creating the High Performance Team, explains in Selling Power magazine that to be successful, a cold calling campaign must follow a rigorous, six-step process:
1. Identify Target Industries
Certain industries are more likely to need your product. Some have clearly defined buying cycles. Winnow your target industries to ones that have both money to spend and a high likelihood of spending it on your product. The final list should include one or two industries.
2. Define Target Job Titles
Your next challenge: Find the people in your target organizations in charge of buying your product or most likely to influence its purchasing decision. In most cases, these buyers and influencers have specific titles and positions. Limit your list to the top three job titles.
3. Create a Suspect List
If you already have a massive list of potential customers, delete everyone not in a target industry and/or without a target title. If you don't have such a list, purchase one that fits your target industry's demographics. Aim to create a list of potential customers who actually have the need and authority to buy your product.
4. Craft an Emotional Message
Put yourself in the shoes of the prospective customer. Based on your understanding of the person's industry and job title, determine the problem -- which your product solves -- that keeps the prospect awake at night. Craft a message that plays to that fear and piques the prospective customer's interest in your product. These examples demonstrate the power of emotional messages over factual ones:
- Factual Message: We make the best uninterruptible power supply in the world.
- Emotional Message: What would happen to your data if there were a power outage?
- Factual Message: Our industrial glue can adhere to metal, plastics and ceramics.
- Emotional Message: Would your boss be happy if you saved millions by eliminating screw attachments?
- Factual Message: Eight percent of our strategic business consultants are Harvard MBAs.
- Emotional Message: Could your company survive if your competitors hired us to make them more productive?
5. Test Your Suspect List and Your Message
Call several individuals on your list to confirm your targets are, in fact, the right people to call. You should also deliver your message to gauge its effectiveness. If there's a disconnect, reexamine your assumptions, and go back to step one.
6. Prepare Them for Your Message
Get your carefully crafted message in front of the potential customer two or three times before making a prospecting sales call. The message can be communicated via email, letter, mailer, advertisement or trade show presentation, but you should never make cold calls unless you've primed the customer to be receptive. Laying the groundwork makes it far more likely that a potential customer will actually listen to a sales rep's call.